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Call centres follow the sun

While only around 100 of the 3,000 call centres in Australia are in this state, an increasing number of companies are choosing to locate teleservices in WA, according to AlintaGas customer services co-ordinator and chairperson of the Australian Teleservices Association John D’Arcy.

“One of the reasons for this is the high turnover of staff experienced in places like Sydney and Singapore, where levels are up to 30 per cent,” he said.

“With 2,000 call centres in NSW alone, there is a tendency for staff in these states to ‘job hop’, whereas WA turnover is below 5 per cent.”

Recent research by ACA Research and Deloitte Touche Consulting Group estimated that call centres averaged a turnover of 18 per cent per year, resulting in 9,000 job changes which cost business $90 million.

“Moreover, WA employees are the most productive in the country, recording a productivity rating that is comparable to Germany and the UK,” he said.

Operating in the same time zone as most of Asia, Perth makes an excellent base to service the region and take overflow and after hours calls for eastern states business.

Drake International call centre specialist Connie Dattilo said our time zone was the main reason many more call centres should be based in WA.

“While the east sleeps we work,” Ms Dattilo said.

WA has more than 70,000 people who speak an Asian language, and with strong political, economic and social affiliation with the region, WA is considered ‘Australia’s gateway to Asia’.

“We have a very multicultural society in WA. Call centre agents may be dealing with people from all over the world, so multilingual skills are something we, as call centre recruitment specialists, look upon favourably,” Ms Dattilo said.

Mr D’Arcy said the state is also appealing as he considers wages are a bit lower here, as are office rental and fitting out costs.

Call centres are increasingly being set up in regional areas and suburbs remote from the CBD such as Joondalup and Midland, primarily as property rentals are of a high standard and available at competitive prices.

An agency recruiting for the new Centrelink call centre in Bunbury reported a response of 1,500 applicants for an initial advertisement for 100 staff. The centre now has 150 staff.

The Joondalup call centre precinct, the first of its kind in Australia, is situated in the Joondalup CBD.

The precinct offers purpose-built facilities which will be fully ducted for flexible communications and fibre optic cabling.

The RAC recently established its third call centre in Joondalup, so staff residing in this region spend no more than 30 minutes commuting to work.

Call Centre Research (a division of ACA Research) managing director Martin Conboy said WA is perfectly situated to link call centres in partnership with New Zealand and offers organisations “a hitherto unattainable international reach.”

“That sort of set up could have a footprint from the Middle East to the Mid West of America,” he said.

“This state is not only ideal due to time zones for eastern seaboard services, it is also strategically placed for international call centre servicing.”

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